“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
In these last several months, millions across the nation and the world have been living in the grip of fear, primarily the fear of contracting the Coronavirus. This is true despite the fact that most people who have been infected with COVID have recovered. The question is then, why are we so afraid? Is this really the fear of death? For many perhaps that is so, because they do not know or are uncertain about what awaits them beyond the grave.
But we who have faith in Jesus find comfort and encouragement here in the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica. Apparently many were filled with doubts resulting from persecution, temptations, and the delayed return of the Lord. A few of the brethren had died, something which the rest did not expect. They grieved for them and were sad. They wondered what had happened to them. Paul set out to comfort them in their grief by relating some theological truths concerning the Lord’s return. He told them that all those who have died in Christ are now alive in Him in heaven. And all those still alive on earth when Jesus returns will be reunited with the faithful in heaven at His Second Coming. All will have resurrected bodies. This is great comfort and encouragement because we know that despite what happens in our lives, those in Christ have the assurance of the glorious hope of our resurrection and eternal life.
Paul’s words give us comfort when faced with our own mortality or when a loved one dies. We need such encouragement especially in the midst of our troubling and violent times. We pray earnestly for the Lord’s return and soon! But what about those who do not know the Lord? Can they expect any such comfort? The return of Christ, an event we look forward to with joy, is not going to be pleasant for billions including some people we love and admire. The prophet Amos described it as a day of darkness and suffering for those who have no faith in Jesus. And, judging by the pain and anguish we feel now amidst our current tribulation and anarchy, we can see with horror that the Lord’s judgment will be extremely distressing for those without faith. They have no hope. Therefore we must continue to preach the gospel to all nonbelievers that they will come to faith before it is too late.